“Veep” is a very caustic, very foul-mouthed, and pretty funny HBO series about a U.S. vice president played by the brilliant Julia Louis Dreyfus. It is also written and put together by a group of British blokes. They must have some good minders at the network, because up until the June 3 episode, I hadn’t noticed a single Britishism that had crept in.
A plot point on that show had to do with the veep’s getting rid of a secret service agent on her detail. At one point, a headline on a TV screen said: “Guard Sacked.”
My glee was short-lived, however, because it turned out that sacked–that is, fired from a job–has been a legitimate NOOB for some time, as witness:
“The surprising return would come more than a month after Mr. Woodford was sacked by the board as president and chief executive after questioning a series of outsize transactions at Olympus.”–New York Times, November 22, 2011
“The mysterious death of Neil Heywood in the Chinese city of Chongqing last year is emerging as a key element in the drama surrounding Bo Xilai, who was sacked as Chongqing’s Communist Party chief in April.”–Wall Street Journal online, June 20, 2012
“In Stages 5, 6, and 7, the star editor gets sacked, a pushover is hired as replacement, the moguls strip the publication down to its chassis and wheels, and they look for a new sucker to buy the publication.”–Jack Shafer, Slate.com, November 12, 2010, referring to “the seven stages through which all vanity press moguls pass after buying a faltering magazine or newspaper.”
It makes perfect sense that sacked would gain popularity over here, as it sounds more brutal than fired and thus suits the act it denotes. I don’t expect, however, that the British term for what Americans call laid off will follow suit. Made redundant is too much of a mouthful, and too odd.